Press Conference with Gavin McFadzean, John Grimes and Nigel Morris

Fighting for clean energy

The Australian Conservation Foundation has joined forces with the Smart Energy Council and industry stalwart Nigel Morris to blast the move by the federal Energy Minister to prop up dirty coal fired power, and the trio are calling on state ministers involved in next week’s COAG meeting to reject the National Energy Guarantee.

At the press conference staged during the Smart Energy Conference in Sydney this week Smart Energy Council chief executive John Grimes commented on the buzz of the show which attracted around 5000 delegates and showcased hundreds of companies involved in solar, storage, smart energy, batteries, hydro and wind, and other big renewables projects. 

“This is the future of energy and it is winning because it is cheaper more affordable reliable and secure and flexible than the old dumb energy system,” John Grimes said. “This represents billions in investments from companies all around the world coming into our economy, with new job creation and greater competition.

“It means greater choice and control for consumers and it’s winning the energy race, however energy minister Josh Frydenberg has just announced he intends to lock in the old coal fired power stations of the past [through the NEG].

“There is a price to pay in making a choice – to lock in the past which is non-investment creating, or to allow the future to unfold. 

“The renewables industry is at risk. The billions of dollars invested in the industry … the tens of thousands of jobs in the renewables sector, that is the price to pay for the ideology of the coalition government.

“We are so disappointed, this is a sad day for renewables, energy storage,” John Grimes said in reference to Frydenberg’s call upon States to support the National Energy Guarantee.  

“We are disappointed the government would chose to lock in and subsidise dirty polluting expensive energy rather than allow the fantastic future that we see around us to unfold and to be delivered in full.”

Gavan McFadzean ACF Manager, Climate Change And Clean Energy Program echoed John Grimes comments, slamming the energy minister for using his National Press Club address to urge State and Territory energy ministers and the public to accept the coalition’s “deeply flawed” NEG.

“Make no mistake this was designed to appease the far climate denying right of the coalition and it is a diabolical disaster for clean energy,” he said.

“The NEG is designed to keep coal longer and even build new coal plant capacity in Australia.

“It’s designed to entrench power in the incumbents Origin, EnergyAustralia and AGL, and effectively lock out competition from the renewables sector that we see here today.

“It also burdens sectors including transport and agriculture, so electricity does not do its fair share of driving down emissions.”

This is at a time when Australia has an urgent task to drive down emissions from the transport and energy sector.

The ACF’s overall concern, he explained, is that the NEG ensures Australia does not meet already lower Paris climate targets – it will instead keep climate pollution longer.

 “We are calling on State energy ministers at COAG to reject the NEG in its current form, to instead put serious red lines through the policy and send it back,” Gavan McFadzean said.

Nigel Morris of Solar Analytics presented a reality check: “When you look around the rooftops of Australia you see the future of energy in solar and renewables wherever you go – it’s not in coal.

“Look at the halls and the tens of thousands putting Australia on Grid 2.0. It’s jobs in renewables that you see. 

“I’ve ridden the solar coaster 25 years … and the NEG and the negativity moving away from yesterdays dirty pollution dirty energy coal power. 

“We need to build the grid of the future – let us get on with that.”

Reneweconomy’s Giles Parkinson asked whether any changes to the final or next version of the NEG would make it acceptable, to which John Grimes responded “At its core it locks in emission reductions targets of 26 to 28 per cent. So no new additional build will be required after 2020.

“This [renewables] industry falls off a cliff then.

“That is the heart of the problem and it’s not acceptable. 

“We will fight back hard on this. The people of Australia want a clean energy future and they will be the ones who pass judgment at the next federal election.”

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